Color of Music: Interview With Eluvium

Color of Music: Interview With Eluvium

We all find inspiration in many different things, all five of our senses can inspire... but I find I am most inspired by music. The audio environments that Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium creates are the perfect places for my mind to go wandering.

I immediately bought two albums on iTunes and reached out to Matthew who happens to live in my home town of Portand (I was in Georgia when I heard his music) and he was nice enough to trade some emails with me about what inspires him and what colors his music is.

CL: General Bio... Who you are, how you got started, why you keep making music, what inspires you most... any other bits you'd like to include.

matthew_cooper_eluvium.jpgMC: I keep making music because although I love everything about existence sound is the one thing that never gets old to me. I have a bit of a nervous personality -- I'm rather anti-social because of it. When I'm creating music all of that goes away and I find myself awash in colors and thoughts and feelings all over the map -- like a warm bath.

Here is a copy of my bio:

Born in Tennessee and raised in Louisville, KY, Matthew Cooper relocated to Portland, OR several years back and has since spent many a night holed up in his house transforming the vibrations in his brain into sweeping walls of elegant noise. With a depth ranging from fragile to glacial, he takes dense layers of guitars, piano, strings and brass, and builds them into an awe-inspiring fortress around himself. Resting comfortably and confidently in the spirits of Brian Eno's most accomplished ambient pieces, and gaining comparisons to Kevin Shields, Fennesz, Rachel's, and Sigur Ros, Eluvium is a freakishly beautiful affair. Following a string of increasingly remarkable albums, Matthew has set out to broaden his instrumental palette, while maintaining the uncanny emotional resonance that has become his trademark.

Influences: nature, literature, city planning, walking, science.
-Photo by rEvseev

Radio Ballet by Eluvium

COLOURlovers: Can you generally describe your style of music?... looking for your words, not so much the generic ambient / acoustic genre sort of thing.

Matthew Cooper: a lot of the times I start to wonder whether it is a sort of miasmah of all the intake that a person is bombarded with on a daily life, not that it is a negative bombardment, just such a grand mixture of so many unique things everywhere - it can be a lot for the brain - and I guess I try to imagine the sounds to be a sort of gentle "letting go" of that mixture - to start again. Other times I imagine it to be the sounds of things we are never hearing - "the harmony of the spheres," if you will, but instead more like the harmony of the plants and rocks and dogs and insects and our own brains...etc... I should just stop there - it's new to me each day - it could be the sound of a house sighing after a lifetime of good protection of a family.

Photo by rEvseev

CL: When you create your music... How affected are you by the environment that you are in? Do you have a specific place where you create your music? If so, what colors are dominant in this space?

MC: I am definitely affected by my environment - not so much literally though. Although, sometimes it just takes the wind blowing a branch out my window to make me realize the piece I'm working on is good for me, but a lot of the time it is simple a mixture of random images in my head walking around that creates the environment. I like to think about a view of the planet from rather far away sometimes, that may seem sort of ridiculous but it helps put my mind at ease and get some perspective as to what I'm doing.

Colors are always present but none are more reoccurring than others. Colors to me are simply mood creators, each one may affect people differently, but I'm only thinking of myself in this event. Water can be involved a lot-- so deep blues are usually there, but the underside of trees leaves are very inspiring to me as well -- so we have some lime-ish greens in there as well -- presumably the space surrounding all of this is the empty space -- perhaps either a blood orange color --or a volcanic rock sort of thing.

Everything to Come by Eluvium

CL: Any artists that inspire you? Music, Digital Art, Painters, Etc.

MC:Inspiring artists: W.G. Sebald, Javier Marias, Roberto Bolano, William Carlos Williams, John Cage, Mark Rothko, Vincent Van Gogh, Shaun Tan, Jeannie Lynn Paske, Quint Buchholz.

CL: A lot of creative people use music as inspiration for their work... do you ever consider what the listener might be inspired to create from your music? Have your fans shared with you work they've been inspired to create from your music?

MC: Fans have shared with me artwork and other music and writing, and sometimes just nice thoughts. I remember one person telling me about a certain time of day in a dusky basement room when the sunlight would fill up the area and haze it over and how my music was involved somehow -- whether that was their description or if it just happened while listening... but it creates a nice image for me, especially all the little cosmos bits floating and skirting around in the dust. At the same time though, i have to say, I do not consider other people when creating music. I sometimes think of other people I know while creating, but I am always creating music only for myself, creating sounds I want to hear, that's how the project started, and I hope that it always stays that way -- sometimes it's hard to remind myself of this but I seem to always come around in the end.

A palette created by Matthew Cooper aka Eluvium. He has released 5 albums (Copia 2006, When I Live by the Garden and the Sea 2006, Talk Amongst The Trees 2005, An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death 2004, Lambent Material 2003) They are all available on iTunes and waiting to inspire you.aquatic thoughts

CL: Do any specific colors come to mind in any of your songs? Can you describe the songs, the colors and generally what the song means to you?

MC: I'd hate to default on this one but it is hard to get so specifically descriptive for songs - it would take a lot of intense thought to be perfectly honest, and i don't want to deflate the question with a bad answer, but hopefully the thoughts above help sort that out.

If I could choose one song to try and describe with colors, it would probably be "one," the last song on "talk amongst the trees," as this album is centrally about evolving into pure energy (not to put too fine a point on it, and trying not to sound too new age-y), but that song sort of circumnavigates the last point of departure for a lack of better terms, and the point where all things become the same. In this area I can't help but see a flood of particles of many different colors placed on an iridescent white mixture. But I don't ever really see the rainbow of colors. None of them stand out as much as I would think -- the iridescence must be more of a smokey fog...I'm going way to far into this. In the end, I really like deep blues and rich greens, they seem to speak to me more than other colors, they fill me with a sense of relaxation.


CL: Who did your album artwork? Were you a part of the creative process for the artwork?

MC: Jeannie Lynn Paske creates a lot of work for me, Quint Buchholz has also allowed me to use a piece of his, and Anthony Lambright happened to do a silk screen that I found startling and used for my first album. For the piece Quint did my involvement was simply to ask permission to use an image that had always been a favorite of mine called "November" -- It seemed to fit the feel of the album. With Jeannie, she is very close to me so we worked together talking things out that I imagined on some works. On others I let her follow her own thoughts while listening, but none of the talent came from me, my involvement was simply to be lucky enough to get to use them on my albums -- Jeannie is actually involved in doing work for a vinyl box set I have coming together.

You can see more of Jeannie Lynn Paske's work at her etsy store: Obsolete World
(She probably deserves her own interview about her wonderfully colorful work)
Learn and hear more at Eluvium's Myspace Page or at

P.S. A lot of love to A. for introducing me to the music of Eluvium.

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Showing 1 - 7 of 7 Comments
Wow, what beautiful music~!
Awesome! :D
i love this guy AND his music. if i could break the matter of me down into musical notes, i would be radio ballet.
I love Eluvium...
Radio Ballet was one of the first songs I learned to play on the piano. :D
Eluvium is beauty and perfection in sweet simplicity.
If a movie is ever made about Mr. Mathew Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio is a dead ringer.

Has anyone approached Eluvium to do a sound track for a movie?

In any event... I love the music. It helps me get my head-space in order if you know what I mean?

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